I've had lots of opportunities to look at the world through the filter of different places. That continues even today.
Recently I was in Reston, Virginia not far from the Washington Beltway and Tyson's Corner where it appears the whole area's infrastructure is being re-built.
After that weekend visit, I spent some time on the mountain overlooking Roanoke, Virginia where we lived for so many years.
Both of those visits came after an extended stay in Carteret County along North Carolina's Crystal Coast.
All of the places are very different. The place where we stay in Reston backs up on Fairfax County park and is almost surrounded by trees. In Roanoke, the home is on the side of a mountain with a view that sometimes includes the distant Peaks of Otter. Our Southern Outer Banks home is tucked in an inlet in Bluewater Cove just off the White Oak River. The houses all differ greatly.
I have known for a long time that my mood is heavily influenced by the environment surrounding the home where I happen to be staying, but I don't think that I put all the pieces together until recently.
The way I feel probably has as much or more to do with what is outside the home as it does with what is inside the home. A place with regular bright blue sky and lots of sunlight not surprisingly makes me feel better. It might even make me feel better than a huge expansive home.
Most of us spend a lot of our lives worrying about what kind of home we live in, and as someone who sells real estate, I know a nice home is important to most people including myself.
However, where a home is can easily be just as important as how nice it is on the inside or how big the home is.
Living in Carteret County has really made that point clear to me. The wonderful world outside our home along the county's Crystal Coast has become an extension to our home.
With a climate that often favors clear skies and warmer temperatures, it is easy to enjoy the out of doors. When we first moved to the Crystal Coast, I was puzzled by the number of garages where you could see chairs obviously being used.
It wasn't long before a couple of chairs appeared in our own garage since it turns out to be just as nice a place to sit and enjoy the weather as our decks are. While the chairs are often pushed to the side, it is not unusual for my wife and I to relax in those chairs in the afternoon breezes.
While the wonderful mountains around our Roanoke Valley home gradually became off limits to us due to development, each day on the Crystal Coast seems to offer a new place to explore.
When you live on a mountain, you can see for miles, but unless you live next to a park or own some acreage to protect your home, eventually the view might be the only thing you can enjoy from your backdoor.
Navigable water is different than land since it is open to the public and invites exploration. While the trails I used to enjoy from our mountain spot in Roanoke have been cut by development, the water near our home in Cartert County has become a vast playground that I use year round.
Exploring the water and the also public beaches keeps me outside more than I might be otherwise. On top of that we have some unbelievable trails just a couple of miles from us at the Croatan National Forest Access in Cedar Point.
I will give the Roanoke Valley municipalities credit for developing the Greenway Trails along the Roanoke River, but I still think they missed a huge opportunity when they passed on buying the mountain land where we used to hike high above the city. There is a big difference walking a hundred feet from a major road and walking 500 ft in elevation above all of those roads.
In Reston the adjoining Fairfax County park isn't anywhere nearly as accessible as the water behind our home on the White Oak River in Carteret County. The trails are hard to reach, and there is some concern for safety even in a town as upscale as Reston. Of course there are advantages to living in a large metropolitan area. On our recent Reston trip we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at the National Arboretum.
While what is outside a home is very important to me, there are people who treat their home as a cave and only rarely venture outside. To them the environment around their homes is of little consequence. They go from one heated or air conditioned environment to another.
While I am not a huge fan of winter cold like we had this past year, I do for the most part embrace the heat. In general our coastal areas are spared from the worst of summer's heat except for a few weeks. The cooling or warming influence of the area's waters helps to give us a temperate climate though it has it's up and downs.
The fact that I live in an area where it is easy to stick a kayak in the water and paddle down the river or to take a long walk on the beach means that a nice trip in a kayak or a long hike on the beach have just become part of me.
When you are looking for a place to live, knowing how you are influenced by the environment around your home can help you make a better decision on where to live. It certainly worked for us.